Twice Overruled: Hon’ble Justice Ruma Pal

Usage of “Non-injurious terminology” in the order of termination of the services of a probationer is not merely enough to conclude whether the order reflects a simple dismissal or a punishment.

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In Samsher Singh v. State of Punjab, (1974) 2 SCC 831 the judgment of A. N. Ray, CJ, D.G. Palekar, K. K. Mathew, Y.V. Chandrachud and A. Alagiriswami, JJ was delivered by Ray, CJ. V.H. Krishna Iyer J gave a separate opinion on behalf of P.N. Bhagwati J and himself. Hon’ble Justice Krishna Iyer’s famous words: “Great deference and complete concurrence would have otherwise left us merely to say ‘we agree’, to what has fallen from the learned Chief Justice just now, but when basic principles are assailed with textual support, academic backing and judicial dicta, speech, not silence, is our option.”

Hon’ble Justice Dipak Misra, however, chose to quote Ray CJ in Ratnesh Choudahry v. IGIMS, Patna, (2015) 10 SCALE 740. It is not surprising. V.H. Krishna Iyer J., despite the courage of having chosen speech over silence, had to conclude in Samsher: “The learned Chief Justice has in his judgment… explained the rule which must govern the determination of the question as to when termination of service of a probationer can be said to amount to discharge simpliciter and when it can be said to amount to punishment.”

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Usage of “Non-injurious terminology” in the order of termination of the services of a probationer is not merely enough to conclude whether the order reflects a simple dismissal or a punishment.

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Ray CJ’s simplicity: “No abstract proposition can be laid down that where the services of a probationer are terminated without saying anything more in the order of termination than that the services are terminated it can never amount to a punishment in the facts and circumstances of the case… The form of the order is not decisive as to whether the order is by way of punishment.”

Now, it gets interesting. You wonder!

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Ruma Pal J in Paragraph 29 of Panavendra Narayan Verma, (2002) 1 SCC 520: “A simple termination is not stigmatic… In order to amount to a stigma, the order must be in a language which imputes something over and above mere unsuitability for the job.”

G.S. Singhvi J in Palak Modi, (2013) 3 SCC 607: “We may also add that the abstract proposition laid down in paragraph 29 of the judgment in Pavanendra Narayan Verma is not only contrary to the Constitution Bench judgment in Samsher Singh, but large number of other judgments.. to which attention of the 2-Judge Bench does not appear to have been drawn.”

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Ruma Pal J laid down the very ‘abstract proposition’ that Ray CJ warned against in Samsher.

We respectfully agree with the view expressed herein-above.

– Hon’ble Justice Dipak Misra, Ratnesh Choudahry v. IGIMS, Patna, (2015) 10 SCALE 740.

Twice Overruled.

 

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